Local News

Big rig trainers remind drivers to share the road

Posted November 25, 2009 11:59 p.m. EST
Updated November 26, 2009 6:54 a.m. EST

— This weekend, the roadways will be gridlocked with motorists rushing to get to their Thanksgiving destinations and big rigs making holiday deliveries.

During the busy travel reason, safety advocates remind motorists to share the road with tractor-trailers.

“They need to be patient when operating around trucks,” Ralph Clemons, vice president of safety at West Brother's Transportation Services Inc., said.

Clemons has 15 years of experience behind the wheel of a big rig. He said the relationship between truck drivers and motorists could always use improvement.

“They can make it very strenuous on you due to the way they operate,” he said.

During safety classes, Clemons teaches tractor-trailer operators to drive defensively.

“You have to drive defensively, not only 80 percent, but 100 percent of the time,” he added.

Drivers at West Brother's are tested in real-time traffic situations to make sure they follow safety protocols. They are also urged to get plenty of rest and avoid distractions, such as texting while driving.

Clemons said motorists can help prevent accidents by not following too close.

“Some people think we can stop on a dime like cars can, but we cannot,” truck driver Victor Rivers said.

Clemons said it takes about 300 feet for a tractor-trailer going 60 mph to stop. He also said motorists should make room for trucks to merge into traffic.

“A lot of times, the car will not move over, (and) they will make you almost struggle to get onto the highway," he said.

Motorists should also remember that tractor-trailers have large blind spots to the right and rear of the vehicle, and smaller blind spots on the right-front corner and mid-left side.

“It can definitely be intimidating when you have one (semi-truck) on each side, and you're not sure if they can see you or not,” motorist David Hinkle said.

For more safety advice on sharing the road with truckers, visit Edmunds.com.